Thursday, August 29, 2013

So deserving of love

I like to think that I have at least an acceptable level of compassion for living creatures (most rodents & bugs, however, do not get any mercy).

Since bringing a cat with mild special needs into our family (read about it here), I have found myself experiencing increased compassion for homeless animals, zero tolerance for anyone who would harm or abandon a pet, and a larger place in my heart for pets with special needs and the people who love them.  My heart does break for people who responsibly surrender - they are doing the best they can for their pet.

I recently read about Homer, a blind cat, who passed away not long ago.  Homer sounds like he was a wonderful companion.  More important, Homer's human shared his story and inspired people all over the world.  I've been reading the messages of love to Homer's human, Gwen Cooper, and I find myself in tears over and over.  Cooper, in sharing his story, has made such a difference.  I think even she is surprised at how broad Homer's story reached and how much it mattered.  She caused so many people to open their homes and hearts to animals who might otherwise have been unloved or euthanized.

I follow a blind Golden Retriever every day.  Ray Charles and his family live a couple towns away.  I love reading the messages posted on his Facebook page.  Because he has not yet reached his first birthday, the messages are written in the voice of a small child which makes them even more charming and fun.  There are haters who cannot wait to mock on his page -- those people do not last long there for sure.  His page is a place for joy and happiness - the updates never fail to make me smile.  His family rescued him from a breeder who was going to put him down when his blindness was discovered.  The idea of purchasing animals from breeders makes me angry, but to put an animal down without giving him a chance just defies logic.

Mr. Magoo the blind cat, every kitty on the CH page I belong to, and countless other inspirational animals [and their humans] are making a difference.  They are showing the world that animals with special needs deserve love and the chance at a good life.  So what if they didn't come from breeders or are not "perfect"?  Ask the humans attached to any of these animals and they will tell you how perfect their little companions are.  My Winnie has no idea there's anything different about her.  She really thinks cerebellar hypoplasia means "precious & adorable" in Latin.  She brings me so much joy - I cannot imagine life without her.  Even my Camille is in a group of animals generally among the last to be adopted -- black cats.

There are some adjustments we've made for Winnie but nothing major.  And that's pretty much what it's like with many special needs animals.  Minor adjustments then business as usual.  My heart hurts when I see how many animals need homes - those with special needs stand less of a chance of finding homes.  They deserve love and they deserve safe homes.  They give so much back.  They teach us how to be tolerant and how far our hearts can stretch.  Best Friends Animal Society works to ensure one day there will be no more homeless pets.  Check out these pages - you might be inspired.  At the very least, you will be touched.

If you have ever thought a pet with special needs would be too much for you - I say to you - look again, because you might be making the most wonderful decision ever.  If not, do what you can to help a homeless pet, whether it means you adopt/rescue/volunteer or just send a gift card for pet supplies to a no-kill shelter -- Winnie & Camille just sent a gift card to the Northeast Animal Shelter to help other kitties have enough to eat.  You can make a difference, too.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Me in a kayak

Inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop, I wanted to share how my Facebook image - me in a kayak - came to be.

4.) Share the story behind your current Facebook and/or Twitter profile photo

I will start by saying that I am not a good boater.

A bunch of years ago, on the weekend before the tragedy of The Perfect Storm, I went out on a deep sea fishing trip from Gloucester MA.  It was beautiful.  Clear skies, nice seas.  Back then, I loved boating.  During the trip, however, the weather conditions changed.  The skies remained clear but the two storms that were coming up & down the coast met and the seas became crazy.  High waves.  Scary moments.  The boat was a good size - maybe 40'?  Without warning, a wave hit us on one side and sent that side almost straight in the air.  I was on the other side that went over toward the water.  I can still see it all in s l o w motion.  We came so close to taking on water but we didn't.  We righted quickly then got slammed by a wave.  I have never been so wet with so many clothes on.  I mean soaked under my skin.  Then that was all - nothing else happened to us.  One giant wave.  We watched other boats nearby have the same thing happen.  The captain told us that the Coast Guard was on the way to rescue someone from a sister ship who had a heart attack.  It was like a movie - they had to lower a stretcher from a helicopter because the sea was too rough to get near them.  Three hours after we left port and the tides changed enough to settle the water, we returned home (ala Gilligan's Island.

Since the boating incident I have never been a good boater.  I always need to be near the life raft or know just where the life jackets are (and be able to see them & reach one quickly).  I've tried - wine helped me on a whale watch last summer - but I never really relax.  We went about 16 miles off the Maine coast last month and I didn't take a good deep breath until we were on land.

I have been in a kayak in the ocean.  This summer, my husband wanted us to kayak in Maine where my stepdaughter Jill lives.  I was afraid to try it.  Basically, I was afraid of tipping over and drowning.  Simple.  To help me be less afraid, he got us a tandem kayak.  This allowed me get a feel for it but not have to be alone.  And I loved it.  I really had fun once I got used to the motion.  It was a great workout and we did not flip over and drown, which I consider to have made the day a success.  Being in the tandem also allowed me to take some great pictures, including the self portrait I'm using on Facebook.

This past weekend we went back up to kayak with Jill.  The water was choppy and it was windy.  Small craft advisory in effect.  Small craft = us in kayaks.  I went out with Brad in the tandem while Jill went in the single.  On the way back, Jill & I switched and I took the single.  Not so easy without Brad in the back.  I felt every wave and every gust of wind.  I was actually swearing out loud when a boat went by.  But I made it back without flipping over and drowning.  Hooray for me!

I may never be a good boater, but I have been in a kayak in the ocean - twice - and that's pretty cool as far as I'm concerned.  If you are afraid of something - I say to you - get in the tandem kayak first so you know what to expect then set yourself free.  It's scary but it feels good (and you'll have the pictures to prove it).


Friday, August 2, 2013

Bravery & Failure

Once again inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much Famous Writer's Workshop , I'm sharing a quote I found on Pinterest that inspires me.

The quote:  Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try.

I love quotes.  I use them quite a bit and often take some inspiration from them.  This quote is kind of a big deal for me and I'll tell you why.

In March of 2012, I left the company where I had worked for close to 23 years.  There was a business shift and positions were eliminated.  For me it was the right time to step away, recharge my batteries and get ready for the next exciting phase in my life.

I had been doing work that I loved and figured all my talent + experience = a snazzy new job when I was ready.  I waited about 2 months to start looking.  It took me a while to disconnect and get into a new groove.  For the first two weeks I felt guilty leaving the computer...never mind just sitting and watching TV.  I had to transition from work mode to not working mode and it was harder than I thought.  I did learn to watch TV without guilt eventually.

Finally my search began.  I applied to positions that resembled my last job.  And I heard back from maybe one.  I kept applying.  And I kept not hearing much of anything.  Sometimes I would go two months without a response.  I worked with an outplacement counselor and she helped me figure out how to expand my search.  She would tell me ..."Don't be afraid to try - to explore new avenues.  Don't be afraid to market your skill set in a new industry."  And I did it.  I expanded my boundaries.  I figured, what do I have to lose? 

Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try.  And that process continued.  It continues still.  I search job postings daily and apply when I have a good feeling.  I've had some interviews, have met and spoken with some really nice people.  My friends have humbled me through their willingness to do whatever they could to help.  I have been incredibly blessed with the level of support I have received.

Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try.  This process is not for the weak of spirit.  It is dehumanizing.  I'm a real person without a job.  The silence is the worst part.  I went to an interview on a morning when we were having a blizzard.  It took me three hours to get into Boston - a trip that normally would have taken 40 minutes.  The interviewer was not as sharp as I would have expected considering the organization and his level.  My career was in his hands and it didn't feel great.  And then I heard nothing.  Nothing.  I went there in a blizzard for goodness sake. 

Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try. These words keep me moving forward.  I keep applying to positions.  I keep networking.  I ask for help when I can.  I ignore the negative comments from people who have no clue.  While I consider each silence a form of failure, I know I cannot stop - I'm more afraid to give up.  I know the perfect job and I are very close to finding each other.

Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try. If you are afraid to fail - I say to you - don't be.  The moment you stop trying, you have automatically failed.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving.  Life has a funny way of working out just as it should - have faith.